Sequestration: taking us from bad to worse

Seattle Housing Authority recently accepted 24,000 applications for a coveted 2,000 placements on the Section 8 waiting list. Last week it announced that the 2,000 households had been chosen through a random lottery, but there’s a catch. Due to sequestration, the local housing authority also announced that it would be unable to issue vouchers to any of the selected households in the foreseeable future. This announcement comes amid news that the King County Housing Authority has suspended issuing any new vouchers to households on their waiting list as a result of sequestration. Local Section 8 wait lists are often closed for years at a time because of the overwhelming need for affordable housing in King County. In the space of a few weeks, sequestration has taken the situation from bad to worse, with 2,000 not-so-lucky households added to a wait list that for now looks indefinite. Our partners at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance provide a more in-depth look into the effects of sequestration on Section 8 recipients and local housing authorities here. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides an overview of the national impacts of Sequestration on Section 8 and other housing and homelessness funding sources.

Section 8 Wait List Open in Seattle

Thousands of entries have already been received for the lottery to be placed on the waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers in Seattle which opened on February 4th and will close on February 22nd. Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8 vouchers, provide a rental subsidy to low-income individuals and families that can be applied to private market-rate housing. Recipients of these vouchers can choose a rental anywhere in the city limits of Seattle within a predetermined price range. Renters then pay 30% of their income in rent, and the voucher pays the difference directly to the landlord. The demand for vouchers is incredibly high and Seattle Housing Authority will randomly select at least 2,000 households to be entered onto the waiting list. This is the first time since 2008 that the waiting list has been opened, and the housing authority is still contacting people from that original list. For more information about the lottery for the Section 8 waiting list visit the Seattle Housing Authority website or call their waiting list hotline at 206-239-1674. Applications are only accepted by the housing authority, don’t be fooled by scam sites which require credit card information!

2,736 people had no shelter in King County last night

The One Night Count of homeless people in King County took place early this morning.  We are incredibly grateful to the many volunteers and supporters whose careful work made this a safe, respectful, and accurate Count. At least 2,736 men, women, and children were found sleeping on sidewalks, under bridges, in their cars, on public transit, and in temporary structures and makeshift campsites. This is 142 more people than our volunteers counted outside one year ago. The work we do together on this One Night is just the beginning. It sets in motion a full year of education, engagement, and action for all of us who care about this crisis. This morning, returning to warmth indoors, we are especially aware of this truth:  everyone should have a place to call home. Volunteers returned from counting shocked and saddened to see their neighbors sleeping on flattened cardboard boxes or riding Metro buses to keep warm.  Many are also inspired to urge public officials to match these basic needs with robust resources.  Right now, our State Legislators are debating funding for key housing and homelessness programs:  I am asking every person who volunteered for this One Night Count, and every member of our Coalition, to commit to taking action.  Let us make sure the One Night Count is more than just a big, sad number. Are you interested in helping? Come to a Homelessness Advocacy 101 Workshop in Seattle or Bellevue on Saturday, February 9 ~ register here. Join Coalition members as we meet with and educate lawmakers in Olympia on Monday, February 11 for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day ~ register here. Support the Coalition’s work through a financial donation. Donations made through February 28 will be matched, up to $7,000, providing a unique opportunity to double the impact of your gift. Donate online …

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Coalition Advocacy Mitigates the Loss of the Ride Free Area

The Ride Free Area has been an essential service to people experiencing homelessness and living on low incomes in downtown Seattle for 39 years. When the King County Council directed Metro to eliminate the Ride Free Area, SKCCH members immediately took up the cause and advocated across the County for the implementation of a robust mitigation plan. SKCCH members contacted King County, Metro, and City of Seattle officials, testified at County Council meetings, and organized a postcard campaign to provide relevant and vital about the impact the loss of the Ride Free Area will have on people experiencing homelessness. As a result of coordinated advocacy efforts, the City of Seattle has partnered with Solid Ground to provide a free alternative bus service in the downtown area. The two Solid Ground circulators stop at 7 Metro bus stops along a 4.5 mile route about every 30 minutes. This new route includes Harborview Medical Center and other important First Hill services which could not previously be accessed via the Ride Free Area. The circulator buses provide necessary access to downtown health and human services for people experiencing homelessness; however the days, hours, and stops are significantly reduced compared to the Ride Free Area due to funding constraints.  More information about the Solid Ground Circulator can be found at: http://www.solidground.org/Programs/Transportation/circulator/Pages/default.aspx Do you have any feedback regarding the word from clients, staff, residents, and guests about the Circulator and the effects on people’s daily lives and health due to the loss of the Ride Free Area?  Do you have feedback related to the circulator buses you think SKCCH should know about? If so, contact me at Kathariner@homelessinfo.org or 206-357-3144.